Want a snapshot of a dream Costa Rica fishing vacation at Crocodile Bay Resort? The following is a recently submited vacation travelogue courtesy of Bo Gorham.
The Gorham’s invade Costa Rica
Crocodile Bay Resort
By Bo Gorham
Thanks to my folks, we got to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity for a second time. We were able to get the Gorham family together and descend on the good folks in Costa Rica at Crocodile Bay. I say a second chance as the same group went there to celebrate mom and dad's 50th 3 years ago. On that was a trip we raised around 52 sails, releasing about 25 in 4 days, plus a Blue Marlin (~250) that my bro-in-law caught on a TLD-20! Needless to say, we were all pumped up about getting back down there!
Again on this trip there were nine of us: mom and dad (Bos and Gwen); my sister and her family (Beth, Jim, Mary Beth and Jamie); and my gang (Bo, Robin and Laura). The coolest aspect is getting all of us together again, as everybody is growing up. Between my sister and I, the kids are now all young adults with one who just finished, another approaching graduation, and mine about to start college.
The trip down was a whirl wind, as this kind of trip always is. Mom, dad, and my gang flew out of Newport News, and we joined up with my sister’s clan in Atlanta (they came in from Tampa). Our plane came in late, and we pulled an "OJ Simpson" and ran through the terminal just in time to jump on the flight to San Jose. Unfortunately, we were quicker than our luggage! At San Jose we hopped directly on a small commuter plane and flew down from the top of the Andes along the pacific coast and into Puerto Jiminez. What a beautiful flight. Once you clear San Jose all you see is mountain and rain forest all the way to the deep blue waters of the pacific. The flight ends with a classic landing onto a gravel airstrip cut out of the rain forest ... there were even chickens on the runway!
Crocodile Bay Resort is a 4 star resort with really beautiful gardens and grounds with nice rooms, cottages, a common dining and pool area and a new spa. The staff is really friendly, and the place is very well organized and run. The fishing packages are all inclusive including beer, wine and bar liquors. The kitchen staff employed some awesome chefs who put on huge spreads of fresh fish, meats, vegetables and native Costa Rican dishes and deserts. Needless to say, it was hard to rough it like we did, but somehow we managed to tough it out! The plan for all of us was 4 days fishing. On 2 days we had a pair of 33 foot “Strikers” (single engine diesel center consoles with a tower). The other two days we had a single Striker for off-shore and a pair of Boston Whalers for inshore. Each boat came equipped with a Captain, Mate, and all the tackle needed. If you wanted additional equipment (fly rods etc) all you need to do is ask. My niece, Mary Beth, was our family fishing coordinator, and set up the crew lists and offshore/onshore agendas. Each evening before fishing Mary Beth met with the fishing coordinator and set up the crew distribution and the lunch and drink choices.
Day one for me was fishing with my dad, wife and daughter on one of the Striker boats run by my favorite Captain, Leandro. (Thee is a pic of Leandro with Laura) Leandro has been written up in Salt Water Sportsman, and was our Captain on our last trip down there. He really knows his boat and waters, and is really great with our family. I gave Leandro an awesome teaser that I ordered from Don (Skinny’s Kid) who also sent me some extra lures, so I ended up making a killer daisy chain with it. Leandro really liked the workmanship Don, and I left him your cards – who knows, maybe you will have some Central American business!
We ran about 10 miles into the Pacific and right into birds from horizon to horizon and dropped baits. Down there they use “bait and switch” tactics on the sails. We ran basically 5 teasers, all fronted with birds. The lines furthest back (shotgun and outriggers) had hooks; and the flat lines were hookless. The teasers varied between big chuggers to squid daisy chains and all plastic. We set the cockpit up with pitch baits; we had 3 TLD 20’s, 2 ready with dead baits, and 1 with a live bait for sails, and an 80 rigged with a Bonita or Spanish to pitch to a Blue Marlin. The basic plan was that once we had a sail in the baits, we teased him toward the boat, and pitched the dead baits to him. If he did not take the dead bait, we would slow down, and drop the live bait in the water. If a Marlin came in … well, we would just throw the Bonita in the water and hold on for dear life!
My shot at a sail came almost immediately. Leandro spotted tuna busting bait and we trolled around the ball a couple times with no success. He ordered us to bring in the lines, and we freelined a couple live baits. Big as life, my bait got nailed, and I hooked into a nice sail. Pretty wild, it skied immediately and came out of the water dead center in the bait ball, and sent birds scattering everywhere! Later in that same area we ran into a Humpback whale that performed a full breach right beside our spread … I mean right beside us! It was absolutely mind blowing! Ok it scared me to death! I had no idea that it was anywhere around, and then suddenly all I saw was a sea monster rising 20 feet out of the water and then crash right beside the baits! Through the rest of the day, my wife picked up another sail, and my dad a nice Mahi Mahi. Later in the afternoon with no warning at all, one of the long riggers goes off, and I handed the rod to my daughter. She stepped into the fighting chair, and up out of the water pops a Blue Marlin estimated at 300 pounds. Laura was on that fish for 45 minutes, and with some good boat work from Leandro, we got leader up and a release! That was Laura’s first Blue Marlin, so congrats to her on that! Through the whole day we had shots at 7 sails, and two other shots at Blues. Not to shabby of a day at all.
Day 2 was the boys against the girls. We had 2 Strike boats and divided ourselves accordingly. My boat had Dad, Jim, Jamie and I with Captain Francisco. Leandro had Robin, Beth, Laura, Mary Beth and my Mom. It was on a whole a very slow day for everyone. The water temps had dropped (80 degrees to 72), and the seas went from teaming with life to barren. No birds, no bait anywhere. We worked north, and blind trolling got one sail on. Jamie fought it for about 20 minutes on a TLD20, and in its final tail-walk it broke off. On further inspection the knot failed (perfecto loop) at the leader swivel connection. We missed a couple other shots at sails, and then bam, we had a Blue Marlin in the baits. My dad hooked it and the game was on. He fought that thing for an hour and 15 minutes, and then it just became a ton of bricks at the end of the line. We got it up and saw that it was foul hooked right ahead of the dorsal fin. Poor dad never had anyway to control it, and unfortunately, we were not able to bring it back to life, and the fish died. We tied it to the back of the boat, and brought it back with us. The local folks came and divided it up, so it did not go to waste. The girls had a decent day with my daughter, niece and sister all getting sails. So the body count ended up being men 1 Blue Marlin, girls 3 sails. We are still arguing about who won!
Day 3 we stayed in-shore, and it ended up being my favorite of the trip. We had a pair of awesome guides Raphael and Nelson, and a 23 foot Boston Whaler equipped with a pair of mercury 115 HP four strokes. The quarry for the day was roosters and snappers. Raphael fired up and took us across the bay and we hugged the coast heading south toward Panama. The whole day Raphael was telling us stories of growing up on that coast, and he and his dad hand-lining snappers, and camping on the secluded beaches. Roosters like the shallow waters near the beach, and prefer where there is fresh water dumping in. That combination set us up to fish within 50 yards of the shore in unbelievably blue water, with waterfalls cascading down the mountains covered in tropical forest that just jump right out of the sea. The scenery was awesome, and the fishing was incredible as well. After a slow start live baiting, Robin, Laura and I suddenly hooked up on a triple where we landed 2 roosters (1 at 25 pound by my wife), and a jack crevelle. Man those Roosters can fight and really live up to their reputation. It was wide open from that point on with run after run on roosters, jacks and snapper. By the time the smoke cleared we landed 3 roosters, a nice king mac, a half dozen jacks, and 14 snapper. On the run back home, Raphael wanted to try one more spot. So we stopped in 80 foot of water and dropped our baits. Pretty quickly Robin hooked into a monster Rooster and fought it on a spinning rod for almost an hour. We got it to the boat about 4 different times before Nelson was able to get a hand on it. It ended up being a 50 pound Rooster, and let me tell you that was one monster of solid muscle!
Day 4 was back offshore for us. I was teamed up with my mom, dad and my family, and out again with Captain Leandro. The offshore bite never recovered, and we had another really slow day. Dad hooked a sail early, but we lost it on a long tail walk. Nothing much for a long time, and then Laura hooked a nice Mahi. Again, we had a long dry spell, and then Leandro started shouting about a Blue Marlin in the baits. We tossed out a bonita and pulled in the hookless teasers. From there we all got to watch as that beast shadowed the baits for over 5 minutes. It was lit up like a Christmas tree with that beautiful electric blue shine as it cruised from bait to bait to bait. Leandro circled, we sped up, slowed down, fed it baits, yanked them away, but it never took anything. Even though we never hooked up, it was an awesome sight to be able to watch it in action. It was the longest that I have ever seen a billfish shadow the spread. We also ran into a group of Mahi. They were everywhere, flying through the air…they weren’t hungry however and then it was time to go.
So there you go, awesome place, warm friendly people, awesome trip, and most of all one hell of a family to share it with!
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